I have been thinking about how people dress here in Portugal as compared to Sweden. Notably, there is quite a difference. And not only because my daily life here contains other types of activities, but rather I’d say there seems to exist a more overriding difference.
When going to a party or outing in Sweden there is seldom any doubt on what to wear. If a formal invitation was sent, it is sure to address the dress code in a clear manner. Even to the extent that if there is no expectation towards dress code, that will be clearly stated as well. But more importantly, when you arrive at the event, you will see that generally everybody will have adhered to the dress code and be dressed accordingly. Own initiatives are neither expected nor taken. Nor would they be appreciated, I’d guess.
In Portugal, everybody wears what they wear. No matter if it’s a party or an everyday event. Dress codes are not normally communicated, or even discussed. I guess because it really doesn’t strike anybody as that important. So at any given event you show up at, you will likely see all types of dress codes, from beach wear to formal outfit, from sneakers to newly brushed shiny shoes. So, as a new comer, it’s real complicated in the beginning, and you’re fidgeting over the standard and what to wear and what not to wear, and will you fit in or not. And then, after a couple of events you just do the same, you wear what you want to wear. And so does everybody else.
On the more subtle side, it has to be admitted that Swedes have quite an elaborated and generally accepted sense of style. Swedes are highly influenced by leading modern countries in many aspects, and fashion is definitely one of them. And as this “Americanisation” has been a steady factor influencing Swedes for decades now, it means it is quite developed and so trends move swiftly across the nation and over seasons. Walking through shopping streets and city centres in Sweden is quite a good looking, fashionable and quite stylish experience.
The stylishness of the Portuguese on the other hand is not as advanced. The country has been shut for decades and thus is still pretty inwards watching, being Catholic brings a tendency towards traditional values which influences not the least in fashion. Fashion weeks, international web forums and seminars are just starting out, tentatively, but are yet to reach a broader audience. The country is really just slowly opening it’s eyes towards the international scene.
So, there seem to be differences with regards to style, and as I’d categorize it, in two directions. One divider deals with the desire to be uniform and fit in versus the desire to come as you are and in accordance with your own momentarily needs. The second direction deals with the aspiration to be stylish and modern versus the lust of being down to earth, simple. So, somewhat uniform yet stylish or come as you are and down to earth, who are you?
And could it be these are not just statements of fashion but also strong cultural indicators?